Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

New Short Story Available!

Cover of Short Story: Selk Skin Deep by Kelly A. HarmonI have a new story available via Kindle!

Selk Skin Deep is an alternate-history — military history, too — about a Selkie who is also a Navy SEAL.

Selkies hail from Scottish folklore. They are mythical creatures that live as seals in the ocean, but can come ashore — shedding their skins — and become human.

Most selkie stories are about women selkies who come to sun on the beach, and whose sealskin is stolen by a man. Without her skin, she’s forced to remain in human form until she gets it back. The man generally forces her to be his wife/maid/servant (sometimes mother to his kids) until the story ends when she finds where he’s hidden her skin and she returns to the sea.

You can read more about selkies at Wikipedia.

My story is a bit off the traditional beaten path. Here’s the description:

Kennedy never envisioned a Navy SEAL like him.

1967. Vietnam. Fat-boys and comp-B bombs explode aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Livingstone killing thousands. Everyone dies if the carrier sinks, unless one SEAL – one selkie – puts the lives of humans ahead of his need to keep his secret.

Inspired by the true story of the U.S.S. Forrestal fire of 1967, award-winning author Kelly A. Harmon weaves alternate-history and fairytale into this action-packed and emotionally charged story.

This review is from when the story was published in the Bad Ass Fairies 3 Anthology: In all Their Glory:

“Selk-Skin Deep” by Kelly A. Harmon is a very well-written, harrowing story of an accident that didn’t have to happen aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. The selkie uses his advantage to try and save the ship and its crew. Ms. Harmon has written an action packed, suspenseful account of a naval battle with a poignant ending.” ~ Tangent Magazine

You can buy Selk Skin Deep on Kindle now. It should be available for Nook and via Smashwords very soon.

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Acceptance! Woot!

Cover: Bad Ass Fairies Cover: Bad Ass Fairies
Covers from Bad Ass Fairies  and Bad Ass Fairies 2: Just Plain Bad, re-released by Mundania Press.

I just learned that my story “Selk Skin Deep” has been accepted for the Bad Ass Fairies III  anthology, subtitled, “In All Their Glory”.

I’m very excited!

Bad Ass Fairies 2 – Just Plain Bad  won the 2009 Eppie Award. I’ll be in very good company as part of the third in the series.

Selkies are fairies from Irish and Scottish mythology, thought to have originated in northern Scottland in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Selkies are seals, living in the sea, but are able to shed their skin and become human.

The most common selkie tale is a romantic tragedy wherein a selkie female comes ashore and has her seal skin stolen. Unable to return to the sea, she marries and has children – usually with the man who stole her skin.

Years later, she finds her skin and dons it, returning to the sea and leaving her human family behind.

“Selk Skin Deep” is an alternate history that takes place during the Vietnam War, at which time President Kennedy first created the Navy SEALs program. In my story, Cade Owen is not only a SEAL, but a Selkie, who’s been assigned duty on the aircraft carrier USS Livingstone  in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Too Many Words

Cover of Jonathan Strange & Mr. NorellA review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke for my Fill in the Gaps: Project 100 list.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell is an alternate-history (or fantasy) that’s set in 19th-century England during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s based on the idea that magic once existed in England and that it will be brought back with the help of two practicing magicians: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. The story centers on their relationship (or lack there of) as they make England into a land where anyone  can perform magic.

I looked forward to reading this book, particularly because it is a Hugo winner. In the end, I was disappointed. I could not finish the book fast enough. I found it completely intolerable.

Ms. Clarke writes in (my opinion) an archaic style akin to Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and, in fact has been criticized for writing a pastiche of them (and others). While I agree that her style mimics many of the old classics, I think I’d draw the line prior to pastiche. Although, like many of the classics, I feel that the book sufferers from extreme wordiness and could have benefited from some judicious trimming….probably 300-500 of the nearly 800 pages comprising this tome could have been deleted.

A good editor could have made this an outstanding read. I felt that there were so many words–such a lack of focus–that as I read, I continued to ask myself…so? So? SO!? Had I not committed to reading this for the Project 100, I’d have quit reading very early on. Very little held my attention. This is sad, because the story is such an interesting one.

Still, the book is not without its merits. There were occasions when Ms. Clarke created the perfect turn of phrase and wonderful lyrical description. Her world-building is superb. If only one didn’t have to plod slowly through the muck to get to the beauty.

As I complained while I read, one friend told me that the last 100 pages makes the entire book worthwhile. I disagree. The pacing did pick up toward the end, almost feeling as though the book raced to its conclusion. It did become more focused–loose strings were tied up–but it failed to provide me with the satisfying conclusion I’d longed for after investing so much time. I found it lacking.

If you like Dickins and Austin, you might like Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. For me, I won’t be picking up the sequel.

Post Script: I failed to mention one of the most annoying things about this book: fictitious  footnotes. There were hundreds, printed in minute type at the bottom of the page, often spanning two or more pages.  The most annoying of the annoying were the footnotes which referred to other footnotes in different chapters  of the book.